So the other day I had a meltdown. It was long overdue, and even though it happened more than 48 hours ago, I am still not quite recovered from it.
That’s because of my general modus operandi for life, which doesn’t allow the “luxury” of a meltdown:
- I waited too long (more than a dozen years) to have the meltdown.
- Things to melt down about kept piling on because I waited.
- I had too much stuff to do to wallow in the ever-increasing pile.
- See No. 1 above, and continue the cycle.
There’s a big mountain of unfinished business to deal with now, and while I don’t think this will be a long job, it’s time to start shoveling through it.
Because my health is involved now.
The other night, hours after the actual meltdown, I had a headache so I took my blood pressure. I didn’t like the numbers I saw. At all.
Here’s the thing: even healthy people who theoretically do “all the right things” can get stuff wrong with them. I have decades worth of an autoimmune disease in my back pocket (which I have soldiered through pretty darn uncomplainingly if I do say so myself, because why would anyone listen?). But now I’m at the age where it has lots of ripple effects, including hypertension.
If the past couple years have taught me anything, it’s that problems will continue to escalate until you decide to address the underlying issues. They won’t go away.
BTW, how weird is it I’m more scared of dealing with the health care industrial complex than I am of kicking the bucket?
Anyhoo, I realize I need to make some additional changes in my life … changes I’m not that excited about and will be railing against over the next couple days.
5 things for Friday, May 11
1. I love sugar and it doesn’t love me. When you have an autoimmune disease that saps your energy, sometimes you crave quick foods that will give you a boost (SUGAR!). But in the long run, it actually saps your energy. Yet another reason to curse the design of the human body.
2. It’s hard to write lists and blog posts when you censor out a lot of tasty morsels because they involve other people whom you don’t want to burn.
3. I once had a married personal training client (someone I inherited from another trainer who attracted a different sort of clientele than my regulars) who used to frequent an “adult friend” website at least weekly. She told me she “met” a guy on that site, drove 50 miles to “meet” him in real life, engaged in an adult-friend encounter in the back of his vehicle, and drove home. My main question, among many: what is your self-talk on the way home from that encounter?
4. I have a lot of stories. So many.
5. Is it bad I shared that one?
- 4x through:
- Leg press x 12
- Leg extension x 15
- Romanian deadlift with DB, 4×12
- Alternating reverse lunges with KB, 4×10 each side
- Single-leg hip thrusts, 4×15 each side
I have a funny story for you.
About 3 weeks ago, I started a “30-day get-back-into-shape” plan. I’d just come off a bad spell – including a weekend in the hospital. That’s a long story all on its own, which I’ll write about soon (when I’m feeling brave).
Basically, though, I was sick of feeling sick.
My plan was going great. I was working out every day (just right, not too much), making headway on some business and personal stuff, and I was happy with the progress I was making.
Seriously, even though I was concentrating mostly on cardio exercises during the first week (part of that long story), I was getting stronger. One night I had my group training session clients do some sun salutations, and I was surprised at how easily I could lower into chaturanga without going to the floor, and push into full upward-facing dog.
It felt amazing.
In fact, that’s when I started thinking about putting together a real 30-day plan for this blog, that I could do in real-time with my readers. How awesome would that be? (Awesome!)
And then that let me to think:
“Slow down, speed racer. You know how it’s gone these past few years. If you make this a ‘thing,’ you’re gonna jinx yourself. Instead, write about it offline as you go, get the 30 days done, and THEN publish it for readers to follow along with.”
‘Ha, Ha, Ha!’ Saith The Universe
The next morning I woke up at my usual time and walked the dog. I noticed I felt colder than usual and generally “off.” I couldn’t seem to warm up when we came inside, so I took my temp.
It was 94 degrees … on two different thermometers.
Now, on the one hand having a low temp wasn’t shocking, as I was just coming out of a significant thyroid “crisis,” caused by a medical snafu (that long story I referred to above). And I always run a low temp anyway (again, thyroid).
But on the other hand, that’s ridiculous. I bundled up, drank some hot tea, and kept moving, and eventually my temp came up a little bit, so I went to work.
By nighttime, I was downright sick, with a real fever this time, and for the next three days all I did was sleep.
That meant I missed a major exam I was supposed to take for an advanced qualification I was working toward. Plus, I’m self-employed, so my income took yet another hit (part of the long story).
Mostly though, I basically 1) felt like shit and 2) was beyond embarrassed by this nonstop barrage of problems. Plus, I was exhausted and I looked like a stoner because I was so tired.
Not very fit-spirational!
To top it all off, I developed shingles … and out of the blue my knee started hurting, which made me walk with a limp.
Did you ever see the old Mary Tyler Moore show, where she goes through a bad spell? It’s considered one of the top 100 sitcom episodes of all time – it’s called Put on a Happy Face. It’s a classic because we can all relate to it.
When I went to see my doc, a few more things came up (part of that long story, having to do with thyroid issues).
We agreed: I was in the midst of a bonafide “spell.” Like, all I could do was laugh. But … also not laugh.
Because how would I turn things around?
How to Get Out of a Rut
… or stop getting your ass kicked, and start kicking ass instead.
I already knew the answer, and I sure wish it was sexier. There’s only one real way to move forward, even if you’re in the middle of a “spell.”
The bad news: It’s the opposite of following a 30-day plan.
Now, I already knew all this based on my numerous (ha!) years of experience both living my life and coaching others. But the thing is, like everyone else on the planet, I wanted a plan that took me from A to B to C … preferably as fast as possible.
The good news: The key to moving forward is simple, whether or not you’re in a spell.
You just have to keep moving ahead, probably more slowly than you like, at least to start.
The bad news part two: You have to be patient, do stuff you might not always want to do, and get a little uncomfortable from time to time.
Seriously, I’ve used the whole “be patient, take your time, do a little bit of something every single day” routine numerous times. It’s how I got into fitness in the first place, after a partially misspent youth. It’s also how I achieved my goal of writing for major newsstand magazines, got a publishing deal on a book, trained for and finished a triathlon, prepared for a bodybuilding show, and more.
Chances are you won’t move toward your end goal in a straight line, and you might even back up/move sideways a little. You might even move at a snail’s pace.
Also, chances are you are gonna have to make some trade-offs along the way.
We’ve all seen the meme:
It’s pretty accurate.
And none of this means you can’t follow a 30-day plan. But what it does mean is that it might take 45 (or more) days. You might change vehicles mid-trip. You might decide you actually enjoy the scenery on a particular detour, and you could even change your ultimate destination.
The thing is, you just can’t stop.
Here’s my plan. Do a little working out every day. Load up my diet with nutrient-dense foods (I have a great recipe tomorrow). If I’m tired, rest.
Reevaluate in a week.
Are you ready to start with me? I have a feeling that the trip is gonna be worth it.
Ever wanted to write a book? Or wondered how to get a book deal?
The other day I did a Facebook Live stream about how my own book deal came about, along with my thoughts about the process.
It’s below, raw, casual, and live as can be!
My opportunity to write an Idiot’s Guide book came about organically – I really didn’t seek it out. Basically, I saw an opportunity that seemed like a no-brainer, and I went for it.
Book Deals are Fun, But Don’t Expect $$$
In the live stream, I tried to answer some questions people have asked me over the years … like the random guy who sent me a series of interrogating private messages trying to get me to tell him how much I got paid.
Or, the secret you need to know to get started writing for major newsstand publications. Once I learned this secret, I had two accepted queries within two weeks.
And, most importantly, will you really lose 20 pounds in 2 months if you follow the plan I outline in the book?
What I Would Do Different Next Time
There was little incentive for me to market this book very hard because I had already gotten paid for it, which was a good thing/bad thing, given the state of publishing these days.
Plus, I didn’t even know HOW to market it, really.
Now, I definitely would be more proactive about marketing, although I’m still pretty clueless about all that – but now I have a better idea of what to do and where to go. I’d definitely get over myself and let the world know about the book’s benefits.
And if I were to do it again, I’d likely pursue another book contract immediately following the publication of the first book. Although at the time I wrote the Idiot’s Guide, I was really busy with personal training and the gym, so I didn’t have the time for it. Or the support.
Because here’s the thing with writing: It’s a solitary pursuit. I know for me, personally, I end up in my head too much if all I do is write. And I’m old enough and wise enough to know now that’s not always the healthiest way for me to spend my days.
In fact, it’s one of the reasons I am so passionate about fitness and helping others love it too: It clears my head.
I’m smarter now about creating that solitary–social balance that many of us struggle with. Plus, being around other people opens your mind to new ideas – and improves the writing.
Would I write another book? Heck yes! How about you? Do you have a book in you, just waiting to be unleashed?
Don’t you love/hate it when your workout turns out to be a lot harder than you anticipated?
The following workouts from my 6 Weeks to Sculpted program definitely fit that bill.
These workouts also will help you meet the minimum twice-a-week strength-training recommendations from the American Heart Association, which suggests two total-body workouts a week for basic health (I wrote about their cardio recommendations last week).
Before you do these workouts, warm up with some bodyweight exercises and/or easy treadmill/cardio. These exercises assume a basic level of fitness — if something hurts or raises concerns, don’t do it. 🙂
With both routines, grouped exercises are meant to be done back-to-back before taking a break. Working out in this fashion not only saves time but revs your metabolism to help boost fat and calorie burn (don’t you love that?).
Workout 1: Push It
Three times through
Alternating Lunges, 12 each side
Pushups, from toes, knees or hands on counter if necessary, 10
Dumbbell side raises, 10
Rest 1 minute
Three times through
Step ups (keep foot planted on step, as you step up/down with other foot). Advanced, hold dumbbells or barbells, 1 minute each side
Overhead press with dumbbells, 12
Biceps curls with dumbbells, 12
Triceps dips, 12
Rest 1 minute
Workout 2: Pull It
Three times through
Plie squat, holding dumbbell or kettle bell between legs, 15
Dumbbell alternating overhead press, 10 each side
Cable, band or TRX row, 15
Rest 1 minute
Three times through
Reverse lunges with dumbbells or barbells 12 each side
Band or lat machine pulldown (or assisted pull up) 10
Dumbbell chest press, from bench, 10
Rest 1 minute
Want a downloadable version of these to save on your phone so you can easily access them at the gym? Click the image below and save it to your device. 🙂
Trainers always say you can’t out train a bad diet — or even a trick-or-treat sugar binge — but I do love a good holiday-themed workout so here’s a Halloween workout for you!
This workout is designed to spice up a machine (treadmill/elliptical/bike) cardio session but if you don’t have access to a cardio machine, you could also switch it up by adding circuits of jumping jacks, jump rope, step ups, or walking/jogging.
I’ve included levels for almost everyone. Optional equipment include light dumbbells and a step/box for box jumps.
If you’re not sure which level to do and you’re not a regular exerciser, definitely start with Level 1. (And if you think for any reason at all that any of the exercises are not safe for you, or even question the workout itself, don’t do it. 🙂 )
The lunges, punches and kicks are meant to be done on EACH side, so 10 lunges means 10 on the right side and 10 on the left, for a total of 20.
Make sure you warm up thoroughly and then cool off after the final circuit by walking.
Have fun, and report back how you did!
TIP: Save the image below on your phone or tablet so you can have easy access to it during your workout.
Woodchops are a GREAT way to sculpt a strong core — especially your obliques (the muscles along the sides of your waist) — in a functional way.
And by functional, I mean in a way that you would use in your everyday life, whether it’s taking dishes out of the dishwasher or getting groceries out of the car, or any number of other activities of daily life (like golfing!).
Most exercises have you move through only one plane of motion — directly in front of you. This exercise has you move through a different plane because of the rotation involved, and mixing it up to work different muscles is a very good thing.
But because we don’t often use rotation in standing movements it’s really easy to cheat this move. Your body is going to want to take the efficient (easy) route and disengage the big muscle groups we’re targeting. No worries: I am offering my top trainer tips in the video below. (It’s kinda loud in the gym where I recorded this … sorry!)
Some things to keep in mind:
Keep your posture in neutral alignment, shoulders back, abs engaged, knees soft.
Think about rotating your hips through the movement. I tell my clients to have their hips say “hello” to the one wall and then the opposite wall across the room.
Move the weight across the muscles you are trying to target (your abs!). If you find that it’s difficult to move in the 45-degree angle, move the weight from the hip to the chest to over your shoulder.
Try this and let me know what you think! (Also making a rare appearance in front of the camera is my dog Zoey, who hates having her picture taken. 🙂 )
Do you have any exercise-related questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer!